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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (July 6, 2019)

"A Republic, If You Can Keep It": Weekend Reading

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James McHenry: Papers: "Monday 17 Sepr. 1787: Read the engrossed constitution. Altered the representation in the house of representatives from 40 to thirty thousand. Dr. Franklin put a paper into Mr. Willson's hand to read containing his reasons for assenting to the constitution. It was plain, insinuating, persuasive-and in any event of the system guarded the Doctors fame. Mr. Randolp[h], Mr. Mason, and Mr. Gerry declined signing. The other members signed...

...Being opposed to many parts of the system I make a remark why I signed it and mean to support it.

Firs[t]ly I distrust my own judgement, especially as it is opposite to the opinion of a majority of gentlemen whose abilities and patriotism are of the first cast; and as I have had already frequent occasions to be convinced that I have not always judged right.

Secondly Alterations may be obtained, it being provided that the concurrence of 2/3 of the Congress may at any time introduce them.

Thirdly Comparing the inconveniences and the evils which we labor under and may experience from the present confederation, and the little good we can expect from it-with the possible evils and probable benefits and advantages promised us by the new system, I am clear that I ought to give it all the support in my power.

Major Jackson Secr[etar]y to carry it to Congress. Injunction of secrecy taken off. Members to be provided with printed copies. Adjourned sine die. Gent[leme]n. of Con[necticut] dined together at the City Tavern.

A lady asked Dr. Franklin: "Well, Doctor, what have we got—a republic or a monarchy?" "A republic", replied the Doctor, "if you can keep it". (The lady here aluded to was Mrs. Powel of Philada[delphia]._

Mr. Martin said one day in company with Mr. Jenifer, speaking of the system before Convention: "I'll be hanged if ever the people of Maryland agree to it. I advise you said Mr. Jenifer to stay in Philadelphia lest you should be hanged."


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